Update 289


Sin–Don't Judge Too Harshly

On April 14, 2007, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Sin–Don’t Judge Too Harshly.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Thinking Ahead To Pentecost

by Terry Grade

We have just observed the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread.  These days remind us annually of Christ’s death–when He paid the penalty of our sins and reconciled us to God the Father. The world is cut off from God. But those reconciled with God are no longer cut off from God, as Christ’s shed blood is a sufficient payment for their sins. 

Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, except the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). Those specially chosen by God and drawn to Christ are instructed to put sin out of their lives, which is what the Days of Unleavened Bread represent.  Leaven puffs up, as do vanity and sin.  Leaven is a type of sin, and the putting out of the leaven pictures putting the “get” way out of our lives and turning to the “give” way.  This is the beginning of building into our lives holy, righteous, perfect, Godly character.

Beginning with the morrow after the Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we count 50 days to observe the Day of Pentecost, which means “count 50.” Originally this Feast was called the Feast of Firstfruits, portraying the first spiritual harvest of God’s begotten children.

Remember, Adam cut mankind off from God, and man must have contact with God the Father to receive His Holy Spirit.  The “tree of life” in the Garden of Eden meant that God freely offered Adam and all of humanity, the Holy Spirit, but Adam had to make a choice between accepting God’s gift and rejecting the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  As mentioned, the “tree of life” represented God’s Holy Spirit and the “give” way of life.  The other tree represented Satan’s “get” way of life. Adam chose the “get” way and was driven by God from the Garden of Eden, “lest he….take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).  As a result, spiritual salvation was closed to all humanity except to those whom God predestined to be called in this day and age.

We are among those predestined to be called now!  We have been called to receive God’s Holy Spirit and  to overcome Satan, Satan’s world and our own human nature.  This requires effort, self-denial and will power.  The Holy Spirit makes us God’s begotten children–but we are not yet born into the God Family. God’s Holy Spirit gives us the ability to comprehend spiritual knowledge.  It is the love of God placed within us.  It is the spiritual power by which we can overcome, to turn away from and resist the “get” way, and turn to the “give” way.  It is the power by which we may develop holy, righteous, perfect character which is the purpose for God having created humanity in the first place–so that God could reproduce Himself through man.

Let us rejoice in this special calling we have been given.  Let’s not take for granted what the day of Pentecost is all about–a reminder to us every year that we are among those called to be a part of the FIRST small harvest. God calls us His “special people.” He offers us salvation, by calling us out of a world that has been cut off from God since the time of Adam.  But, we have been called for more than just our own spiritual salvation and the gift of eternal life.  We are called NOW to help in preparing for the Kingdom of God and backing up the great commission of proclaiming the true Gospel to the whole world.

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“The Conscience of the Colonel”– How the U.S. Government Damaged Its Own Case

On March 31, 2007, The Wall Street Journal wrote an amazing and eye-opening lengthy article, which falls into the category of must-read publications, explaining the unusual decision of a veteran prosecutor to refuse to proceed with the prosecution of a case, based on legal and moral grounds. The paper titled the article, “The Conscience of the Colonel.”

We are quoting the following excerpts from the article:

“When the Pentagon needed someone to prosecute a Guantanamo Bay prisoner linked to 9/11, it turned to Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch. A Marine Corps pilot and veteran prosecutor, Col. Couch brought a personal connection to the job: His old Marine buddy, Michael ‘Rocks’ Horrocks, was co-pilot on United 175, the second plane to strike the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The prisoner in question, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, had already been suspected of terrorist activity…

“But, nine months later, in what he calls the toughest decision of his military career, Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution. The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi’s incriminating statements — the core of the government’s case — had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law…

“Guantanamo prosecutors estimate that at least 90% of cases depend on statements taken from prisoners, making the credibility of such evidence critical to any convictions. In Mr. Slahi’s case, Col. Couch would uncover evidence the prisoner had been beaten and exposed to psychological torture, including death threats and intimations that his mother would be raped in custody unless he cooperated…

“Col. Couch had his own misgivings. On his first visit to Guantanamo in October 2003, he recalls preparing to watch an interrogation of a detainee when he was distracted by heavy-metal music. Accompanied by an escort, he saw a prisoner shackled to a cell floor, rocking back and forth, mumbling as strobe lights flashed. Two men in civilian dress shut the cell door and told Col. Couch to move along. ‘Did you see that?’ he asked his escort. The escort replied: ‘Yeah, it’s approved,’ Col. Couch says. The treatment resembled the abuse he had been trained to resist if captured; he never expected Americans would be the ones employing it…

“By May 2004, Col. Couch had most of the picture relating to Mr. Slahi’s treatment, and faced a painful dilemma: Could he seek a conviction based on statements he thought were taken through torture, as permitted by President Bush’s November 2001 military commission order citing a ‘state of emergency?’ Or was he nonetheless bound by the Torture Convention, which bars using statements taken ‘as a result of torture…as evidence in any proceedings.’…

“In May 2004, at a meeting with the then-chief prosecutor, Army Col. Bob Swann, Col. Couch dropped his bombshell. He told Col. Swann that in addition to legal reasons, he was ‘morally opposed’ to the interrogation techniques ‘and for that reason alone refused to participate in [the Slahi] prosecution in any manner.’ An impassioned debate followed, the prosecutor recalls. Col. Swann said the Torture Convention didn’t apply to military commissions. Col. Couch asked his superior to cite legal precedent that would allow the president to disregard a treaty. The meeting ended when Col. Swann asked the prosecutor to turn over the Slahi files so the case could be reassigned, Col. Couch recalls…

“With the Slahi prosecution on ice, Col. Couch continued work on other cases — including another ‘varsity program’ prisoner, Mohammmed al-Qahtani, who, according to army report overseen by Gens. Schmidt and Furlow, had been made to wear women’s underwear, leashed, forced to perform dog tricks and berated as a homosexual. Col. Couch refused to use statements obtained during these interrogations. But he determined the prosecution could continue based on a separate source of evidence compiled by the FBI before Mr. Qahtani’s Guantanamo interrogation…

“In August 2006, [Col. Couch] took on a new assignment as a judge on the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. Col. Couch says he’s still frustrated that the actions of the U.S. government helped ruin the case against Mr. Slahi. ‘I’m hoping there’s some non-tainted evidence out there that can put the guy in the hole,’ he says.”

Iraq “Celebrates” Four-Year U.S. Liberation

The Associated Press reported on April 9:

“Tens of thousands of Shiites – a sea of women in black abayas and men waving Iraqi flags – rallied Monday to demand that U.S. forces leave their country. Some ripped apart American flags and tromped across a Stars and Stripes rug. The protesters marched about three miles between the holy cities of Kufa and Najaf to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. In the capital, streets were silent and empty under a hastily imposed 24-hour driving ban. Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered up the march as a show of strength not only to Washington but to Iraq’s establishment Shiite ayatollahs as well…

“The fiery cleric owes much of his large following to the high esteem in which Shiites hold his father, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was assassinated in 1999 by suspected agents of Saddam Hussein… Iraqi soldiers in uniform joined the crowd of marchers which stretched for at least three miles and was led by a dozen turbaned clerics, a Sunni Muslim among them.”

Der Spiegel Online added on April 10:

“German commentators are pessimistic about the future of the country… Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein. But instead of celebrations, the tone in Iraq was set by angry anti-American protests. The powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called protests in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, on Monday. April 9 was the fourth anniversary of the tearing down of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, which symbolized the end of the dictator’s regime… German commentators Tuesday felt that the demonstrations were a sign of increasing pessimism in Iraq over the country’s future…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Four years after the end of the Baath regime, most Iraqis are in no mood to celebrate. If one believes the latest surveys, more than three quarters of the population want the Americans and their allies to withdraw, and they have never been so pessimistic about the future…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘There is not the slightest chance that the Shiites will convert to the ideal which is wanted by the United States, namely that of a multi-denominational, multi-national Iraq…

“Conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘(Iraq is) a country in civil war — four years after its liberation.'”

The EU and Britain

The Wall Street Journal wrote on April 4:

“On March 30, the EU’s foreign affairs ministers gathered in Bremen, Germany, to discuss Iran’s kidnapping of 15 British soldiers. The ministers refused to support the U.K. proposal to pressure the mullahs with the threat of revoking government export guarantees. Their joint declaration of course ‘deplores the continued arrest of 15 British citizens by Iran’ and ‘underlines the European Union’s unconditional support for the government of the United Kingdom.’ But that’s as far as their ‘unconditional support’ went. There was no diplomatic or economic boycott, not even the hint of one, let alone a military threat.

“The EU couldn’t muster the strength to support one of its most important member states. The lack of substance in the declaration stands in sharp contrast to the gravity of the incident. The British soldiers were in Iraqi waters and their presence was sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council.

“The Iranian leaders created this incident to test the will of the West and demonstrate their own power… The EU reacted as the mullahs expected: it did nothing. It wouldn’t even threaten ending export guarantees, although Europe could easily bear the possible loss of these sales that make up only 1.5% of its total exports. Europe chose instead to handle Iran with kid gloves, just as it has for years.”

In Townhall.com, Charles Krauthammer wrote on April 6:

“Iran has pulled off a tidy little success with its seizure and subsequent release of those 15 British sailors and marines: a pointed humiliation of Britain, with a bonus demonstration of Iran’s intention to push back against coalition challenges to its assets in Iraq. All with total impunity… The quid pro quos were not terribly subtle. An Iranian ‘diplomat’ who had been held for two months in Iraq is suddenly released. Equally suddenly, Iran is granted access to the five Iranian ‘consular officials’ — Revolutionary Guards who had been training Shiite militias to kill Americans and others — whom the U.S. had arrested in Irbil in January. There may have been other concessions we will never hear about… Where then was the EU? These 15 hostages, after all, are not just British citizens, but under the laws of Europe, citizens of Europe. Yet the EU lifted not a finger on their behalf…

“Iran’s shaky economy is highly dependent on European credits, trade and technology. Britain asked the EU to threaten to freeze exports, $18 billion a year of commerce. Iran would have lost its No. 1 trading partner. The EU refused.”

The article goes on to lament, as did the previous article of the Wall Street Journal, that Europe could not have acted as they are too diversified and politically incompetent to do so. However, that is NOT the real reason. The cause for EU’s inactivity and Britain’s isolation is to be seen in BIBLICAL PROPHECY. For more information, read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.” Also, please view our latest StandingWatch program on this issue, titled, “Why Britain’s Humiliation?” 

Not Much Sympathy for Britain

The Daily Mail wrote on April 6 about the lack of sympathy for Britain, after the release of the sailors from Iran. And the subsequent inappropriate conduct of some of the British sailors, offering their story to the press for money, did not help to change the world’s view. Due to the national and international outcry, the British government reportedly prohibited its sailors to “sell” their story–a forced reaction… “too little too late.”

The Daily Mail wrote:

“Sympathy for Britain was in short supply around the world yesterday…

“IN IRAN, newspapers reported the release of the 15 British hostages with glee. The conservative Resalat daily called the affair ‘a slap in the face’ for ‘those countries that think they can violate Iran’s territory’. The hardline Jam-e Jam declared: ‘Britain gave guarantees, soldiers were released. Iran could skillfully humiliate the West in this incident.’…

“IN SAUDI ARABIA, which has troubled relations with Iran, newspapers voiced the widespread suspicion that a deal had been struck over the 15 Britons. ‘Whatever spin the British may be putting on the release of their 15 naval personnel… the whole incident has become a triumph for the Iranians,’ said Arab News, an influential English language daily.

“IN THE U.S.,… The Wall Street Journal said the Iranian objective had been to humiliate Tony Blair…

“IN ISRAEL, a headline in the Jerusalem Post declared: ‘Iran Shows Up Britain’s Weakness.’…

“IN ITALY, the leading daily Corriere della Sera said in an editorial: ‘… it seems that Great Britain [has] negotiated a deal with Tehran.’

“IN HOLLAND, De Volkskrant agreed.

“IN FRANCE, influential broadsheet Le Figaro gloatingly told its readers of Britain’s sense of shame at the outcome of the hostage crisis. The paper showed front covers of… daily papers under the headline ‘Britain has been humiliated!’

“IN AUSTRALIA, the Sydney Morning Herald said the hostage saga had been ‘too horribly familiar’ and that Tony Blair’s protests seemed ‘hollow’ because he has supported the U.S. over Guantanamo and CIA renditions. In the case of the sailors there had been ‘release after coerced confessions and guilty pleas’.”

Iran Defies the World

Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 10:

“The international community has sharply condemned Iran for announcing on Monday, its ‘National Day of Nuclear Technology’, that it had begun industrial-scale nuclear fuel production. The move is a fresh snub to the UN Security Council.

“Iran’s ‘National Day of Nuclear Technology’ didn’t give the international community much to celebrate this year. Russia called Iran’s announcement that it had begun industrial-scale nuclear fuel production a ‘provocation,’ the United States said it was a further sign of Iran’s defiance of the international community, and the United Nations urged Iran to engage in dialogue.

“Tehran on Monday announced it had achieved a major expansion of uranium enrichment and begun operating 3,000 centrifuges — nearly 10 times the previously known number — in defiance of UN demands it halt its nuclear program or face increased sanctions…

“Iran’s announcement marks a shift from experimental atomic fuel work involving a few hundred centrifuges used for enriching uranium to a process that will involve thousands of machines. Western nations fear enrichment will bring Tehran closer to building atomic bombs. Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, says it only wants the fuel to produce electricity so it can export more of its oil and gas. US analysts say 3,000 centrifuges are in theory enough to produce sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, perhaps even within a year…

“The move showed Iran was ‘definitively going in the wrong direction,’ said the Foreign Ministry in Germany, which currently holds the European Union presidency. A foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s ruling conservative Christian Democrats, Eckart von Klaeden, said Iran posed the biggest threat to international security… Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, warned that if the UN imposes further sanctions, Iran may reconsider how much it cooperates with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The IAEA has been conducting inspections at a number of Iran’s nuclear sites. Larijani… added that the West must accept that its nuclear program is a fact and rejected halting enrichment as a precondition for talks.”

More Bad News for the U.S. Dollar

WorldNetDaily wrote on April 11:

“While the world press has focused on Iran’s plans to move ahead with enriching uranium, Tehran continues to wage economic war against the U.S. dollar behind the scenes.

“Tehran has reached a decision to end all oil sales in dollars, according to statements by Iran’s central bank governor… in Kuala Lumpur at the end of last month. Zhuhai Zhenrong Trading, a Chinese state-run company that buys 240,000 barrels of oil per day from Iran, approximately 10 percent of Iran’s 2.2 million barrels per day total output, has confirmed a shift to the euro for its Iranian oil purchases…

“Meanwhile, China which now holds $1 trillion in foreign reserve holdings, announced March 20 it will no longer accumulate foreign exchange reserves. This is more bad news for the dollar, since approximately 70 percent of China’s $1 trillion in foreign reserve holdings are held in U.S. dollar assets… The dollar has lost 9 percent of its value against the euro in the last year and is down 35 percent against the euro in the last five years.”

China and Japan Want Reconciliation

AsiaNews.It wrote on April 11:

“Starting today through to April 13th the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is in Japan on a state visit which observers describe as a milestone in the journey towards reconciliation between East Asia’s two super powers… There are three events which give particular meaning to Wen’s trip to Japan: talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; his speech to the Diet, the first ever made by a Chinese leader; his audience with the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the imperial palace… The event is of great importance on a geopolitical level, both in an East Asian and world context.”

China and Japan will ultimately work closely together. In fact, according to Biblical prophecy, they will become part of a power bloc which will also be joined by Russia and India, among other Asian nations.

France, UK and Germany’s Increased Powers

The EUObserver wrote on April 5:

“Despite recent enlargement, the biggest EU states – France, the UK and Germany – have increased their power over EU decision-making, a Swedish study suggests. But Italy is punching below its weight, while sheer charisma helps some small EU countries boost their influence.

“The overcrowded negotiating table in the European Council – EU leaders’ meetings which normally take place four times a year – has made the bloc’s big players more eager to pool their powers in coalitions and bilateral agreements where size really matters, the report ‘Bargaining power in the European Council’ says… Despite the two recent enlargement rounds, France, Great Britain and Germany have grabbed more influence over EU decision-making, although formally, all member states have equal say, the report concludes.

“‘The European Council is a rather inhospitable environment for small and medium sized member states,’ the study’s author [Mr. Tallberg] stated in Brussels, explaining that the nature of the European Council, with negotiations carried out behind locked doors, offers greater leeway for power politics than any other EU institution. ‘The presidency gets together with the large member states and settles the matter among them, and then they ask the other states if they are in or not,’ Mr Tallberg explained.

“The report quotes Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker as saying that ‘greater member states have a greater say. We never admit it, of course, but one has to acknowledge that geography and demography are playing a role.’…

“Finally, an important factor for gaining bargaining power in the council is the personal qualities of EU leaders and their ability to generate authority, respect and trust among their European colleagues.”

The article also pointed out that presently, “Germany has relatively little say in matters of defence, due to its limited military capacity despite its position as the largest EU member state.” However, when a charismatic German or Austrian leader will arise on the world scene, that situation will dramatically change. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Do Millions of Bees Die Because of Pesticides?

AFP reported on April 6:

“US beekeepers have been stung in recent months by the mysterious disappearance of millions of bees threatening honey supplies as well as crops which depend on the insects for pollination. Bee numbers on parts of the east coast and in Texas have fallen by more than 70 percent, while California has seen colonies drop by 30 to 60 percent. According to estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, bees are vanishing across a total of 22 states, and for the time being no one really knows why…

“The situation is so bad, that beekeepers are now calling for some kind of government intervention, warning the flight of the bees could be catastrophic for crop growers. Domestic bees are essential for pollinating some 90 varieties of vegetables and fruits, such as apples, avocados, and blueberries and cherries…

“Scientists… believe… [that] a new kind of chemical product… could be weakening the insects’ immune systems. The finger of suspicion is being pointed at agriculture pesticides such as the widely-used neonicotinoides, which are already known to be poisonous to bees. France saw a huge fall in its bee population in the 1990s, blamed on the insecticide Gaucho which has now been banned in the country.”

If true, this would be another example of the incredible foolishness of man.

Politicians Influence and Respond to Second Part of UN Report on Global Warming

Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 6:

“Climate change in the coming century may lead to disasters ranging from famine in Africa to the thinning of Himalayan glaciers, according to the long-awaited second part of an extensive United Nations report on global warming. More than 100 countries represented in the UN’s panel on climate change spent a tense Thursday night in Brussels trying to agree unanimously on the language of a final draft.

“The report, prepared by more than 2,500 scientists for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), provides the first confirmation from the entire international scientific community that the burning of fossil fuels by humans is one of the main culprits of global warming…

“The report claims that global warming will lead to desertification, droughts and rising seas and that those living in the tropics will be the worst hit — from sub-Saharan Africa to the Pacific islands. Billions could face water shortages, and ocean levels might rise for centuries to come. It could lead to a sharp drop in crop yields in Africa and bring heatwaves to Europe and North America. Europe’s Alpine glaciers will disappear and much of the coral that comprises Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will die from bleaching.

“The scientific conclusions — based on 29,000 sets of data — also said that up to 30 percent of the Earth’s species faced a higher risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average in the 1980s and ’90s…

“The contents of the report, most of which had already been leaked to the media in recent weeks, prompted political leaders to call for action, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. ‘The report confirms that climate change is a fact,’ Merkel told the Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. ‘That’s why we need quick and determined action to limit the rise in temperatures worldwide and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. I will also address the issue at the G-8 summit. My aim is, insofar as possible, to involve all states in taking responsibility for climate protection.’

“Merkel said she hoped recent European Union actions might help to push China and the United States — the world’s two largest sources of greenhouse gases — to do more to reduce emissions. In March the EU’s 27 member states agreed [to] cut greenhouse gas emission by at least 20 percent from 1990 levels over the next 13 years. In addition, it agreed that at least one-fifth of all of the EU’s energy would come from renewable sources by 2020…

“Originally, the report was to be released on Friday morning at 10 a.m., but the presentation was delayed for hours as heated discussions continued as countries like China, Russia and the US continued to lobby for the removal of parts of the report. US delegates also opposed a passage warning of the prospects of ‘severe economic damage’ to parts of North America. But the main tension in Brussels between some authors of the report and some political representatives was not over the scientific findings, but over a 21-page summary that would be shown to policymakers.

“Earlier this week, the summary said scientists had ‘very high confidence’ that natural systems around the world ‘are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases.’ ‘Very high confidence,’ in the language used by the report, translates to a 90 percent certainty. Delegates from China and Saudi Arabia lobbied for ‘high confidence’ instead, or 80 percent certainty — and after a dramatic hours-long protest by three scientists on Thursday night, the milder language went in. ‘The authors lost,’ said one of the scientists. ‘A lot of authors are not going to engage in the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) process anymore. I have had it with them,’ he told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

“Though Washington and Beijing ultimately succeeded in changing very little of the text, the political tug o’ war drew sharp criticism in Germany. ‘We are happy that we were able to prevent this kind of scientific vandalism in the end,’ Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Reuters TV. ‘The people have a right to find out about the consequences that threaten them if we are unable to stop climate change.'”

Historic Cold Weather in Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte.com reported on April 9:

“A historic cold weather outbreak shattered records this morning in Charlotte and elsewhere in the Carolinas, producing bone-chilling conditions for Easter sunrise services… The polar air outbreak that began Thursday reached the bottom this morning, when temperatures dropped to 21 degrees at 7 a.m. at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. That not only broke the low-temperature record for the date, but it was the coldest for any April day in Charlotte history… Sleet fell Saturday afternoon in parts of Texas, including the Dallas and Austin metropolitan areas. It was the first time in 70 years that frozen precipitation fell in April in those areas.”

Quake Lifts Island Out of the Sea

AFP reported on April 7:

“The seismic jolt that unleashed the deadly Solomons tsunami this week lifted an entire island metres out of the sea, destroying some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. In an instant, the grinding of the Earth’s tectonic plates in the 8.0 magnitude earthquake Monday forced the island of Ranongga up three metres (10 foot).

“Submerged reefs that once attracted scuba divers from around the globe lie exposed and dying after the quake raised the mountainous landmass, which is 32-kilometres (20-miles) long and 8-kilometres (5-miles) wide.”

This occurrence reminds us–as a very tiny and small forerunner–of prophesied powerful earthquakes in the future, when “every mountain and island” will be “moved out of its place” (Revelation 6:14; compare, too, Revelation 16:20).

A Spooky Apparition in Rome

The Daily Mail reported on March 30:

“When retired policeman Andy Key went on a trip to Rome, he was struck by the beauty of sunlight streaming through a window in the Vatican. As the Pope made an address nearby, he decided to capture the stunning image on his camera. But it was only when Mr Key, 48, and his wife Susan, 44, returned home and downloaded their photographs that they noticed a strange apparition in the picture.”

The article added: “Professional photographers have studied Mr Key’s photo and are at a loss to explain what may have caused the image.”

The article speculated that this “apparition” might have been the picture of an “guardian angel.” However, Key was also quoted as saying: “I snapped the picture and didn’t notice anything until I got home. It looks almost like a hologram. I thought it was really spooky.”

The article published several pictures of that “apparition.” We would agree that “spooky” would be the operative word. The Bible has much to say about “apparitions,” but they are not in any way connected with God’s holy angels. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”

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Is it correct that we in the United States cannot be excused from jury duty for religious reasons? Therefore, we must serve on the jury, even though we are conscientiously opposed to doing so and might otherwise face contempt and jail?

This is absolutely incorrect. Under the law, you are entitled to be excused from serving on a jury, if you have sincere religious convictions, based on the Bible, which prevent you from serving on a jury. You might be excused by a clerk, once you make your request in writing, or you may be required to appear before a judge to explain to him or her your sincere religious convictions. Our Q&A in Update # 66 (Update ending Friday, November 8, 2002), explains in detail the grounds for Biblical refusal to serve on a jury.

It is true that some clerks have taken the incorrect position that the law prohibits them to excuse you from serving because of religious reasons. However, once their misapplication of the law was explained to them, sincere Christians opposed to serving on the jury were ultimately excused.

To help you better understand the legal application of the issue, we are setting forth below excerpts from a letter with which we provide the courts in relevant cases. This document sets forth the legal rights of sincere Christians who refuse to serve on a jury because of their sincere religious convictions, which are based on Biblical grounds and the Church’s teachings. Please understand that a potential juror may be able to raise additional grounds justifying his excuse from jury duty, but we are limiting this discussion to excuse because of religious convictions:

“[The potential juror’s] convictions are in accordance with the Church’s teachings in this regard [of jury duty]. Further, based on [the potential juror’s] convictions, it is the Church’s position that [the potential juror] would sin if [the potential juror] were to serve on the jury, since the Bible teaches that everything, which is not of faith, is sin (Romans 14:23).

“I [a minister] also confirm that the Church of the Eternal God teaches its members against serving on a jury.

“In addition, a relevant case was decided several years ago. The Supreme Court for the state of Minnesota held that a member of the Worldwide Church of God (of which the Church of the Eternal God is an offspring), who had refused to serve on jury duty because of religious beliefs, was guilty of contempt for such refusal. The United States Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded the case back to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Minnesota Supreme Court, taking its cue from the United States Supreme Court, then reversed itself and held that the Church member would not be required to serve because of her religious conviction. The citations to the primary case are, In re Jenison, 375 U.S. 14, 84 S.Ct. 63, 11 L.ed. 2d 39 (1963), and In re Jenison, 125 N.W. 2d 588 (1963).

“Two other cases which are in agreement with the Jenison court are State vs. Everly, 146 S.E. 2d 705 (1966) (by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia) and U.S. vs. Hillyard, 52 Fed.Sup. 612 (1943, E.D. Wash.).

“Section 204 of California Code of Civil Procedure [or relevant similar sections in other jurisdictions] does not prohibit you excusing a potential juror because of his or her religious convictions. It states that an eligible person ‘shall not be exempt from service as a trial juror by reason of occupation, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or economic status, or for any other reason.’

“This law prohibits discrimination against potential jurors, who are willing to serve. This law is in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the states to discriminate against persons because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, economic status, or occupation. This law serves as a shield, but not as a sword. For instance, it prohibits a judge to excuse or disqualify a female black juror, because the judge only wants white male men on his jury. As stated, this law does not prohibit excusing a potential juror because of his or her religious conviction preventing the juror to serve on the jury—otherwise; it would be in violation of the US Constitution. It would also be inconsistent with the remainder of the statute, as it says that a juror cannot be excused ‘for any other reason,’ while that statute itself allows excuse under certain circumstances (for instance, if the juror is physically handicapped, too old, or if there is financial hardship).

“In this regard, notice should be taken of the following decisions:

“‘[W]here the [government] has in place a system of individual exemptions [as is the case in California regarding jury duty, such as disabled persons, financial hardship, etc.], it may not refuse to extend that system to cases of “religious hardship without compelling reason.”‘” Employment Division, Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 884 (1990). See also, City of Chicago, 342 F.3d at 764. Such a refusal ‘tends to exhibit hostility, not neutrality, towards religion.’ Bowen v. Roy, 476 U.S. 693, 708 (1986).

“In addition, as [the potential juror] is religiously opposed to swearing, the courts have held that a person who is opposed to swearing, because of his or her religious convictions, cannot be forced to swear or raise his or her right hand. (Compare United States of America v. Looper, 419 F. 2d 1405 (1969); Gordon v. State of Idaho, 778 F. 2d 1397 (9th Cir. 1985). This is especially true regarding a ‘juror’s oath’ in light of a recent—highly publicized—decision of the Colorado Supreme Court to the effect that jurors are not permitted to resort to the Bible during jury deliberations. Other reported cases have made it clear that a potential juror must obey the judge’s instructions to the jury, even though they might violate a juror’s individual conscience, which [the potential juror] could not do.”

It is critical to fully understand this issue, and our strong recommendation is that you also thoroughly familiarize yourself with the Biblical teachings that lead Christians to avoid jury participation.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new member letter was written and posted on the Web. In the letter, Brian Gale discusses the importance to treasure our precious knowledge of the annual Holy Days, and what they picture.

A new StandingWatch program was recorded and posted on Google Video. It is titled, “Why Britain’s Humiliation?” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the fact that the capture and subsequent release of 15 British sailors and marines was extremely embarrassing and humiliating for Great Britain, while Iran ended up victorious. The question is asked WHY it should be that Britain found itself all alone–with no real support from ANYONE.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God